China's exports fell further than expected in September while imports also declined in a further sign that weak global demand continues to challenge the world's second-largest economy.

Exports contracted 10 percent to $184.5 billion over a year earlier, worse than August's decline of 2.8 percent, customs data showed Thursday. Imports fell 1.9 percent to $142.5 billion, also down from a 1.5 percent rise in August.

Analysts polled by FactSet had estimated that exports fell 3.3 percent while imports rose 1 percent.

Chinese leaders are under pressure to shore up trade and stave off job losses in export industries. The contraction in imports reflects possible weakness in the domestic economy, but the figures also are depressed by a decline in prices of oil and other commodities.